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David Shoemaker of MIT and the LIGO Laboratory tells the story of two black holes coalescing 1.3 billion years ago, through Albert Einstein’s prediction of gravitational waves and Rai Weiss’ inspiration for detection, to the magical moment on September 14, 2015 – when all the elements came together to realize the first direct detection of ripples in spacetime and the first observation of black holes with a mass of some 30 suns merging to become one.
Dr. David Shoemaker is the Director of the MIT LIGO Lab, and the Leader of the Advanced LIGO Project to make the detectors used in the discovery of gravitational waves. Shoemaker started out as a lab technician at MIT in the mid-70’s, but after joining Rai Weiss’ lab he built and tested the instrument which made the first definitive measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background spectrum in the ‘70s. Shoemaker then turned to the field of gravitational-wave detection, helping to advance the measurement technology. After working in Garching, Germany at the Max Planck Institut für Quantenoptik, and in Orsay, France at the Université de Paris, he returned to MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts and worked on the Initial LIGO detectors before taking on the effort to realize the second generation of detectors. Shoemaker is now working to enable 3rd-generation approaches to yet better sensitivity, and supporting efforts to put gravitational-wave detectors in space.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx